Today’s birthday, May 6

Responsible for one of the most talked about movies of all time, Orson Welles was a filmmaker who struggled for recognition.


Born George Orson Welles on May 6, 1915 in Wisconsin, both his parents died before he was 14, after which Welles indulged his love of literature and theatre.

After finishing school and travelling to Ireland, London, Morocco and Spain, Welles founded the Mercury Theatre group.

In 1938 Welles and the Players performed the War of the Worlds radio broadcast, famous for convincing thousands of Americans that aliens had landed on Earth.

Welles went on to join the RKO studios where he directed, produced, co-wrote and starred in Citizen Kane (1941), now one of the most famous films ever made.

Based on the life of newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst who strongly opposed the film, it struggled to gain media attention and ran at a loss.

With his second film the Magnificent Ambersons running into major budget and production problems, Welles parted company with RKO.

His Hollywood directing career never really recovered.

Towards the end of the 1940s Welles moved to Europe where he took on various acting roles in films such as the Third Man (1949).

His other famous films include Catch-22(1970), Treasure Island (1972) and The Muppet Movie (1979).

Up until his death from a heart attack in 1985, Welles continued to act, do voice-overs and make television appearances.

Despite not enjoying much commercial success, Welles is viewed as one of the most important directors in the history of film.

He married three times to Virginia Nicolson (1934-1940), Rita Hayworth (1943-1948) and Paola Mori (1855-85).